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The Quality of Morsi Is Not Restrained

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Call me cynical, but things are not running aright when the political landscape of post-revolutionary Egypt is dominated by clerical fascists in zealot beards and man-nighties who think that rape-victims were asking for it, Jews are to blame for everything, Christians should not be allowed to be president and homosexuals should be thrown off mountains.

The democratic credentials of a state are certainly questionable when the general population is so apathetic it can barely bring itself to vote with even a semblance of freedom - and when it does shamble off to the ballots, it votes for bug-eyed religious bigots who genuinely believe that God is talking to them and all the world's ills are largely the fault of Jews.

Things are not at all well in the Land by the Nile. It would be futile to pretend otherwise. Yet a lot of people both inside and outside of Egypt seem to think that if one screws up one's eyes tightly enough, plunges the fingers in the ears hard enough and mantras "Morsi is a democrat" enough times, when they open their eyes and unplug their ears, the ancient land of Sedge and Bee will turn out, miraculously and contrary to all evidence, to be some modern land of political milk and honey.

It will not turn out so - despite the fervent prayers of some who seem to think Morsi is waging some sort of democratic jihad against the evils of the junta of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Egypt is not a flourishing (or even emerging) democratic state that respects human rights and the rule of law - despite the all the special pleading for clerical fascist Islamists being shamefully made by the Western left in the name of their long-time addictions to spurious theories of anti-imperialism and third-worldism. Bien-pensants may engage in wishful thinking as much as they like; but the simple facts are that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a moderate, democratic force for good and there is nothing progressive about the rule of clerical fascists who hate Jews, women and homosexuals in the name of their god.

It is not as if the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies have been behaving nicely recently and in ways that might convince old cynics like me that they are really, truly committed to a bright, shiny liberal democratic future for Egypt. In the last few weeks alone, MB has been directly or indirectly involved with the beating of opposition demonstrators, the arrest and prosecution of opposition media personalities, the closing of opposition television media, the intimidation of independent newspapers, and the appointment of the relatives and allies of MB personalities to all the editorships of the state media.

In the short time he has been president, Ricky Tomlinson look-alike Muhammad Morsi has effectively abolished parliament, gone back on his promise to appoint a woman or Christian or both as vice-president and is involved in machinations to abolish the last check on his unbridled power, the constitutional court. He now rules, with the connivance of military intelligence and the thugs of the interior ministry (controlled by another MB member), with powers that frankly Mubarak would have been envious to hold in his grasp. Revolution? What revolution?

Over the last few days Egypt has hardly been rocked by the replacement of the hated Tantawi and his Mubarak minions on the high command of the Egyptian armed forces. In point of fact, most Egyptians seem to think it is a very good thing that Morsi has appointed as a replacement for the Field Marshal the head of Military Intelligence. This specimen gained rightful infamy last year for his defence of the army's systematic use of digital rape, aka "virginity tests", as a means of terrorising women demonstrators last year. A vileness that attracted the attention of Amnesty International. However, in a land so notorious for groping and sexual assault it hardly seems worth mentioning that the second most powerful man in the land has defended rape as a tool of political control.

According to El-Sissi (for it is he, the new head of Egypt's armed forces), "virginity tests" protected women from rape and protected his soldiers from the accusation that they were raping women. Err.... what? Obviously appointing this man is a measure of the seriousness with which we should welcome MB's commitment to such high ideals as women's rights. The fact that El-Sisi is also allegedly not only related to senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood but is keenly supportive of their Islamist agenda has absolutely nothing to do with his appointment. Of course not, perish the very thought.

Nor has Morsi done a great deal to keep in line the more shouty lunatics amongst his brethren and their fan-base. We have recently had the judgement of a senior member of the committee that issues fatawa of the al-Azhar university in Cairo concerning what to do with demonstrators opposed to the rule of MB and Morsi. To cut to the chase, he advices it is a religious duty to murder those who oppose the government. Killing them in cold blood is no crime, as far as he is concerned. As far as I am aware the Shaykh is still in position at the al-Azhar and the government, usually so keen to beat up critical journalists and threaten to shut down their newspapers, has in his case come over all coy and lifted not a finger. Well, he's a man of God, ain't he? - Bless. And of course, so are they. Like attracts like, or so they say.

If the Muslim Brotherhood has turned out to be exactly what lots of people not wedded to wishful thinking or political hallucination said it would be - a pack of mendacious, power-hungry, religious fascists - their brothers in Islamism, the Salafi, have been fairing still worse (if that is possible). Early this year did we laugh when the population of a small town in the Delta took the law into their own hands and drove off the local men in shorty galabiyas and gigantic beards. The brothers had been attacking shops in the town centre, enraged by the sultry temptress evils of female shop manikins, and beating women in the streets for... cough... being in the streets. Even small town Egypt, a fairly conservative place, had quite enough of that nonsense. By stick and stone the Salafi were forced into retreat. Not that it has stopped them, though. We were appalled though to learn of the murder of a talented student in Suez at the hands of such religious fanatics. His crime? Being been seen out in public with a girl to whom he was not married.

In between, Egyptian media has been flooded with the collective bat-shit crazy thoughts of the Salafi preachers - usually genocidal thoughts involving Jews, more Jews and yet more Jews. I was recently informed by a Salafi that "the Jews" were poisoning Egyptian men to turn them all gay. The view that Jews are supposedly spreading drugs and AIDS to kill all Egyptians is a fairly well established lie in Egypt - but turning them gay? That is just too much! Kill them all, froth the mad ones on television, radio and interweb. Stomach-churningly, much of Egypt agrees.

Of course, we can all breathe easy: Morsi's response to such lethal madness has been quick and sure. He has released many similarly wild-eyed and murderous jihadi from prison and back into the general population - including some involved in the assassination of former president, Anwar Sadat.

That will teach them.